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Visit the centuries-old gompas, or monasteries, in and around Leh with Cox and Kings's eight-day "off the beaten track" trip to Ladakh. Reuters
Visit the centuries-old gompas, or monasteries, in and around Leh with Cox and Kings's eight-day 'off the beaten track' trip to Ladakh. Reuters

Gourmet and active travel deals for early fall

Take to the hills in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, explore mainland Japan, bike across Scotland or eat your way around Cambodia on these great new trips.

Ladakh, India

Spend a week in the the Himalayas in Leh, the capital of Ladakh and one of India's most beautiful northern frontiers, with Cox and Kings's "Himalayan desert - off the beaten track" tour. Explore the top sights in and around the city, including the 15th-century Shey summer palace. Picnic in Ldorma, or the valley of flowers, via Khardungla Pass; drive up Changla Pass, 5,300 metres above sea level and one of the world's highest motorways; see the magnificent Pangong Lake, 140km long and one of the largest saltwater bodies in the Himalayas; travel to Hemis Gompa, an age-old monastery situated deep in a gorge; visit a Ladakhi home to try the local cuisine; and spend a day shopping for artefacts and souvenirs in the colourful village markets of Moti and Nowshere.

The trip costs from Dh1,570 per person, based on two sharing a double room, including accommodation, most meals, local transfers, transport and sightseeing, and taxes. International flights are not included. For more details, visit www.coxandkings.ae or call 04 3572 628.

Honshu, Japan

"Essential Honshu" is a classic, 16-day, small-group tour that combines Japanese cities, culture and nature. Start with a celebratory dinner at a colourful izakaya and a tour of Tokyo - a cruise down the Sumida River, a stroll through Hamarikyu tei-en, shopping in Ginza and Harajuku, and stops at important temples, shrines and sites. Go on an early-morning visit to the fish market in Kamakura before seeing the town, which is small enough to be explored on foot (don't miss the large Buddha statue at Kotojuin temple). Next stop is Hakone, where a transport pass allows you to see the city by bus, rail, cable car and even a "pirate boat", which ferries tourists across Lake Ashino. Stay in a traditional guest house, enjoy the hot spring rotemburo bath and climb Mt Fuji (available with next month's departure). Next up is a ride on a bullet train to Osaka for more exploring and shopping. You'll also spend a few days in Kyoto, Takayama and Kamikochi.

The two-week trip costs from 2,200 (Dh12,783) per person and includes all accommodation, all local transport and airport transfers, most meals, transport passes in Tokyo and Hakone, a boat cruise in Tokyo, a walking tour in Kyoto's geisha district, the services of a tour guide, a complimentary Info-Pack and a seven-day Japan Rail Pass. International flights and entrance fees to sites and museums are not included. Visit www.insidejapantours.com for more details.

Scotland

This is an epic mountain-biking holiday that will take you 300km across Scotland, beginning in the town of Bonar Bridge in the east and ending in the pretty fishing village of Applecross on the rugged west coast. Visitors will ride along some of Scotland's best trails, including Balblair woods, the highland town of Ullapool, then moving west to Dundonnel forest, Fionn Loch and onto Poolewe and then Kinlochewe, along a length of single track that rises high above the Loch Maree, then descends steeply to the lake. Time permitting, there's also an extra 15km loop to ride from Loch Maree. Then on to Annat and through the mountains of Torridon, which offer everything from stunning views of the skyline to strenuous climbs. After a free half-day, the next stop is the village of Shieldaig, reached by a trail that runs along an inland loch. The journey ends at the tip of the Applecross peninsula.

The eight-day trip costs from 890 (Dh5,170) per person (minimum age is 18 years), including all accommodation, some meals, the services of a qualified and experienced guide; local transport plus a support driver, and all group safety equipment. The price does not include international flights. Departure in September. Visit www.mtbholidayscotland.com.

Cambodia

Luang Prabang, a Unesco World Heritage Site and once Cambodia's royal capital, is the starting point of this two-week "food and festival tour", where visitors will dine in restaurants featured in recent TV programmes about Khmer food hosted by the celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein; tour the country's vibrant cities, from Laos to Vientiane; explore the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap; and, end the trip in Phnom Penh with the annual bun om tuk,or water and moon festival, a celebration of the reversal of waters in the Tonle Sap - where you'll join thousands of residents as they converge on the city to watch and participate in the highlight of the three-day festival, a dragon boat race. The huge boats, each representing a village, are manned by more than 70 people. The festival also includes a ceremony that features a procession of illuminated floats by night.

The 14-day trip costs from 2,150 (Dh12,490) per person, including all accommodation, government passes and permits, entrance fees to sites, all local transport and most meals. International flights are not included. Departure in October. Visit www.wildfrontiers.co.uk or call 00 44 20 7736 3968.-

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